Historicizing ‘America First’ and US Isolationism

Christopher McKnight Nichols
Oregon State University

Isolationism is much in the news in recent days. President Trump’s acquiescence to Turkish demands regarding a modern buffer area, including a new offensive, followed rapidly by an announcement that all, or nearly all, US troops will be withdrawn from Syria has drawn sharp rebukes, including from prominent Republican members of Congress. Disastrous consequences for Kurdish people, and former US allies, on the ground in Syria has added fuel to this fire. Most notably Senator Lindsey Graham suggested that Trump “must” rethink the US position, and argued that isolationism has not “worked” in particular historical moments, such as before the Second World War. Others have responded that these latest policy changes do not, in fact, amount to isolationist or even retrenchment politics, given the scale and scope of US military commitments worldwide. While yet others have cited history, noting, sadly, that major powers have a tendency to sell out allies when it is convenient or the going gets tough, which itself does not necessarily amount to any particular type of strategy or policy position.

Continue reading “Historicizing ‘America First’ and US Isolationism”

Ideologies and U.S. Foreign Policy International History Conference (May 31-June 1 @OregonState)

Marc-William Palen
History Department, University of Exeter
Follow on Twitter @MWPalen

Imperial & Global Forum readers on the U.S. West Coast and Pacific North West might be interested in the following upcoming conference that I am very much looking forward to – the “Ideologies and U.S. Foreign Policy” International History Conference.

Co-organized by Christopher McKnight Nichols, Danielle Holtz, and David Milne, the conference  at Oregon State University as a project is intended to bring international scholars together to investigate the profound ideas that have led to the production of U.S. foreign policies. The co-organizers are motivated by the notion that contemporary ideas about the sources and mechanisms of power need to be reconsidered with the lessons of history in mind, particularly regarding the relationship between domestic and international policy.

The events related to the conference are free and open to the public (with on-site registration) and will include public forums, scholarly panels, and a keynote address by James Lindsay (Council on Foreign Affairs), all confronting crucial issues in U.S. foreign policy, in both historical and contemporary contexts. Contributors from around the world, representing a diversity of approaches to the study of foreign policy, will explore the central ideas and ideologies as well as people and groups that have shaped U.S. involvement with the world. Panelists will engage with large public audiences in Corvallis and Portland over the course of several days. C-SPAN and History News Network also are expected to be covering the conference.

The program is as follows: Continue reading “Ideologies and U.S. Foreign Policy International History Conference (May 31-June 1 @OregonState)”